Monday, February 20, 2012

‘Stagnation’ is perhaps the best description for three clubs somewhat expected to perform better – at least their names justified expectations: Lyon, Bordeaux, and Reims. Olympique (Lyon) was constantly among the best clubs of France, and the most likely team to become major force. But it was not happening, and even looked like Lyon exhausted itself before achieving anything: this season finished dangerously near relegation zone – 16th, with only 2 points more than Monaco. Girondins de Bordeaux were different story: during the 70s the club settled as typical mid-table club. Nothing special. As for Stade Reims, their glory years were ancient memory – the club gradually faded during the 1960s. But they finished surprisingly high in 1976 – 5th. May be Reims were coming back to life? Bottom, from left: Lech, Bianchi, Vergnes, Simon, Ravier.
Second row: Krawczyk, Masclaux, Dubouie, Aubour, Laraignee, Brucato.
The squad itself hardly brought great enthusiasm – except Lech, a former French national player, nothing much… Team for the future Reims were not, and their strong season could be attributed to the man, who cut his hair, compensating the reduction with growing a beard, but always sitting on the ball during photo sessions: Carlos Bianchi. It could be said that Reims finished so high thanks to the Argentine alone – Bianchi ended the best scorer of the season with impressive 34 goals! It was his second award after 1974 and Bianchi was to stay best French goalscorer for 4 years straight. It was also Argentinian monopoly – Delio Onnis (Monaco) was the best in 1975 and until 1983 there was no other better goalscorer in France, only Bianchi and Onnis. If the list of top scorers was suggestive for the state of French football, the picture was rather pessimistic: from 1970 to 1987 foreigners scored most goals. The only Frenchman to grace the list was Patrice Garande (Auxerre), who shared the honour with Onnis in 1984. The Argentinian monopoly was almost interrupted in 1980, when the German Erwin Kostedde (Laval) tied Onnis on top. But no matter how great Carlos Bianchi was, he was not enough to keep Reims among the best teams: in fact, Reims was going downhill.